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Softball Takes 14-Game Win Streak To Syracuse Saturday

April 18, 2003

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Notre Dame at Syracuse, Doubleheader Saturday, April 19, 11 a.m.

Notre Dame brings 14-game win streak into BIG EAST match up at Syracuse: The University of Notre Dame softball team (24-11, 8-0) head to Syracuse for a doubleheader with the Orangewomen (12-8, 4-6) at 11 a.m. on Saturday, April 19. The Irish will be wary of the home team this weekend, as Syracuse ended Notre Dame’s 14-game win streak just a year ago at Ivy Field with a 3-1 victory in game one of a doubleheader.

Irish put together 14 straight wins, take over first place in the BIG EAST Conference: Notre Dame is rolling through the month of April once again. Traditionally a strong month for the Irish (Notre Dame has won 76% of its all-time games in April), the team has won 14 games in a row – and all 14 of those contests were in April. Notre Dame has not lost since its doubleheader sweep at the hands of #22 Northwestern on March 26.

The 14-game win streak is the longest for Notre Dame since last year’s squad won 14-straight from March 30 – April 14, 2002. The Irish have also won their first eight games in BIG EAST competition to take over first place.

The Irish have a long way to go to achieve the longest win streak in school history. The 2001 team won 33 in a row on the way to a 54-7 record.

Andria Bledsoe assumes the role of the hottest hitter on the team: During Notre Dame’s current 14-game win streak, eight hitters have boasted an average over .300 – led by senior short stop Andria Bledsoe. Bledsoe has gone 17-42 (.405) with three doubles, a triple, two home runs and 15 RBI over the last 14 games. She also has stolen four bases over that same stretch.

The other over .300 hitters in the last 14 games include Lisa Mattison (.400), Andrea Loman (.391), Meagan Ruthrauff (.381), Megan Ciolli (.354), Kellie Middleton (.333), Alexis Madrid (.324) and Mallorie Lenn (.300).

As a team, Notre Dame has hit 16 home runs in the last 14 games, drove in 82 runs (5.9 per game) and stolen 26 bases.

Pitching putting up equally impressive numbers: The Notre Dame offense might be grabbing the headlines, but the Irish pitching staff has been equally strong over the last 14 games. Notre Dame’s team ERA over the 14-game winning streak stands at 1.05, as the Irish have allowed just 14 earned runs. Heather Booth has gone 7-0 with a 0.34 ERA (see Booth note later in this package), Carrie Wisen 2-0 with a 0.38 ERA and Steffany Stenglein 5-0 with a 2.20 ERA. Jessica Sharron has made three effective relief appearances as well.

Opposing teams have managed just 45 hits over the last 14 games (3.21 per game) and struck out 80 times (5.71 per game).

Mattison explodes for best doubleheader performance of her career: Lisa Mattison entered the month of April in a slight hitting slump, but has begun to pound opposing pitching over the last week and a half.

After game two of the St. John’s doubleheader on April 11, Mattison was hitting just .200. Since that game, however, her batting average has jumped 73 points to .273 with 12 hits in 20 at bats.

Her doubleheader performance against IPFW on Thursday was the highlight of the hitting streak. Mattison ended up five for seven in the two games with six RBI, two doubles and one home run.

Hitting streaks: The Irish have four players who have hit safely in at least the last six games. Meagan Ruthrauff leads the way with a nine-game streak, followed by Andrea Loman, Megan Ciolli and Lisa Mattison who all have six-game hit streaks going. Loman posted the longest hit streak on the team this year with an 11-game run from March 14 – April 11.

Rally at Pittsburgh on April 9 best seventh-inning effort in school history: Notre Dame achieved a program first on April 9. Their five-run inning in the top of the seventh goes down at the best-ever seventh inning rally by the Irish. Since 1989, the first season of softball, the Irish had never rallied from a four-run deficit in the seventh inning to win, or tie the game.

The big hit in the seventh was provided by Andrea Loman, who drilled a bases-loaded double to plate the tying and winning run.

April success: The month of April has traditionally been a successful 30 days in the history of the Notre Dame softball program – especially over the last three seasons. The 2001 Irish team went 23-0 in April, a key portion of its 54-7 season. The ’02 team from a season ago eclipsed the ’01 team’s win total with 24, and suffered just one loss during the month (24-1, .960).

One of Notre Dame’s goals this month will be to reach the 25-win plateau. The Irish already have 14 wins this month and have at least 12 games remaining in April.

Notre Dame’s top April performances:

2001 – 23-0 (1.000)

2002 – 24-1 (.960)

1996 – 23-2 (.920)

1998 – 23-3 (.885)

Meagan Ruthrauff and Heather Booth claim BIG EAST weekly awards: Freshman designated player Meagan Ruthrauff and classmate Heather Booth both earned weekly awards from the BIG EAST Conference on Monday after helping Notre Dame to six conference victories over the last seven days.

Ruthrauff was named co-player of the week (sharing the award with Erin Mackey from Boston College) while Booth landed co-pitcher of the week honors (sharing with BC’s Kim Ryan).

Notre Dame went 6-0 last week with two victories each over Pittsburgh, St. John’s and Seton Hall. The wins over St. John’s and Seton Hall, the second and first place teams in the league before the weekend, propelled the Irish from ninth in the league standings to third (and the only team undefeated in conference play).

Ruthrauff hit .438 last week with two doubles, two home runs and six RBI. Her slugging percentage for the week rounded out at an eye-popping .938. She also walked three times to put up a .550 on-base percentage.

Among her big hits during the week, Ruthrauff crushed a three-run home run in game one against St. John’s on Friday to put the Irish ahead to stay. In the second game against the Red Storm, she doubled and eventually scored the winning run in Notre Dame’s 2-1 victory. She also hit a home run in game two against Seton Hall.

Booth ended up with two one-hit gems last week, throwing complete-games against Pittsburgh and Seton Hall. She carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Pirates on Sunday, losing her chance at the no-no with two outs.

The rookie righthander finished last week 3-0 with 19 strike outs in 19.1 innings pitched. Her BIG EAST Conference-only games ERA of 0.36 leads the league as of April 14.

Notre Dame vs. Syracuse series history and doubleheader preview: The Irish and Orangewomen will be meeting for the sixth and seventh time on Saturday. Notre Dame leads the all-time series 4-1, with Syracuse’s victory coming in the first game of a doubleheader at Ivy Field (3-1) last season. Notre Dame is 2-0 at Skytop Stadium (two 6-0 victories in 2001).

Syracuse is 12-18 this season and 4-6 in the BIG EAST Conference. The Orangewomen were picked second in the preseason conference poll behind the Irish. Jennifer Orpitelli keys the offense for Syracuse, sporting a .388 average, four home runs and 12 RBI. Alexis Switenko has been the run producer, banging seven home runs and driving in 21.

In the pitching circle, Notre Dame is sure to see Tara DiMaggio, who shut the Irish down last year at Ivy Field. DiMaggio is 8-9 this season with a 2.10 ERA. The Orangewomen also have Taylor Petersen (1.92 ERA, 3-5) and Haley Larsen (5.21 ERA, 1-4).

Loman proving herself as one of the best in the country: Notre Dame’s season-high 14-game win streak has been keyed by the outstanding play from senior third base Andrea Loman. A tri-captain this season (along with classmates Andria Bledsoe and Alexis Madrid), Loman has led Notre Dame to 14 straight wins with a .391 batting average and 15 RBI. She also has stole four bases, drawn four walks and either posted the winning hit or scored the winning run in nine of Notre Dame’s last 14 victories (see page seven).

On the season, Loman boasts a .368 batting average with six home runs, 29 RBI, 10 stolen bases and a .623 slugging percentage.

Heather Booth developing into a force: Freshman Heather Booth has hit a great stride over her last seven appearances. During the string, she has gone 7-0 in seven appearances with two shut outs and 39 strike outs in 41.2 IP. Opponents have scored just three runs off her.

Booth has pushed to get her ERA under the 2.00 barrier, carrying a 1.70 ERA into Saturday’s doubleheader action. She is 14-5 this season with seven complete games, 94 Ks and four shut outs (two combined, two solo).

Notre Dame team members chasing down career records this season: There are a number of Irish team members ascending the career record charts this season. The senior-captain trio of Alexis Madrid, Andria Bledsoe and Andrea Loman are all approaching the career games played record. Madrid has appeared in 216 career games, Bledsoe 214 and Loman 213. Notre Dame has 16 games remaining on the regular-season schedule this year. Combined with any post season contests, and all three Irish players have a shot at the career games played record of 245, held by Jarrah Myers (1999-2002).

Loman, a top player on the Irish team in all her years with Notre Dame, is threatening a number of career marks. She is third in runs scored (150) behind Jenny Kriech (1999-2002) with 158. She is creeping up the most hits list with 204, needing a strong finish to get in the top five (243). Loman and Bledsoe are both about to appear on the top five in all-time doubles, as Loman has 39 and Bledsoe 37. In fifth-place is Lizzy Lemire with 43 and Melanie Alkire holds the all-time record with 49.

Loman, Bledsoe and Hartmann are all moving up the career home run record list:

1. Jarrah Myers (1999-2002), 36

2. Melanie Alkire (1998-2001), 30

Andrea Loman, 28

4. Sara Hayes (1992-95), 26

5. Meghan Murray (1994-97), 15

Andria Bledsoe, 13

Liz Hartmann, 13

Loman has already broken the career walks record with 78, eclipsing Jarrah Myers’s 76. She is also within reach of the stolen bases mark (Loman has 52, needing seven more this season to break Katie Marten’s record of 58 from 1994-97).

Notre Dame single-game home run record has even more company: Notre Dame’s original single-game home run record was set in 1990 when Sheri Quinn hit two home runs against Loyola-Chicago. Since that day on March 24, 1990, the feat has been matched 14 times. Andria Bledsoe and Liz Hartmann hit two home runs each in Notre Dame’s game against Louisiana-Lafayette on Feb. 28. Hartmann was already a member of the record-holding club after hitting two bombs against Oakland in 2002.

In all, five current Notre Dame players are among the nine in school history who have hit two home runs in one game. Jarrah Myers (1999-2002) is the only Notre Dame player to hit two home runs in a game three times in her career – against Virginia Tech (4-30-02), Seton Hall (4-30-00) and CS Northridge (3-11-01).

Bledsoe enjoys first career grand slam: Even as senior short stop Andria Bledsoe closes in on the top five all-time in career home runs, she has never hit one with the bases loaded until the April 1 doubleheader at Purdue. Bledsoe liked the second pitch she saw in her second at bat on Tuesday, blasting a bases loaded grand slam for her fourth home run of the season. The Higley, Ariz., native had hit a grand slam in the fall exhibition season of 2001.

New national poll: USA Softball, in conjuncture with and the Amateur Softball Association (ASA) have formed a new national poll. See page eight of this notes package for both the ESPN/USA Softball poll and the USA Today/NFCA top 25.

Notre Dame head coach Deanna Gumpf in her second season: Irish head coach Deanna Gumpf led her team to a 44-17 record in 2002 – her first season as the program’s leader. A former assistant at Notre Dame and player at Nebraska (’92), Gumpf and her staff landed the BIG EAST Conference Coaching Staff of the Year award and shared the NFCA Mideast Region Coaching Staff of the Year award with Wisconsin last season.

Among Notre Dame’s many accomplishments in 2002, the Irish advanced to the final day of competition at the NCAA regionals for the second-consecutive season, won the BIG EAST regular-season and tournament titles and set school records for home runs (54) and fielding percentage (.971).

California girls: Just a quick glance at the 2003 Notre Dame softball roster can beg the question; is the Notre Dame campus located on the west coast?

In all, 10 Irish players call California home – that is over 50% of the roster. Add in head coach Deanna Gumpf (La Palma) and the Notre Dame softball team has a distinctive Golden State flavor.

The California girls: Steffany Stenglein (Huntington Beach), Carrie Wisen (Fullerton), Jessica Sharron (Agoura Hills), Liz Hartmann (Novato), Chantal DeAlcuaz (Modesto), Alexis Madrid (Temecula), Mallorie Lenn (Garden Grove), Heather Booth (Riverside), Andrea Loman (Riverside) and Meagan Ruthrauff (La Mirada).

Notre Dame preseason favorite to win the BIG EAST Conference: The BIG EAST Conference has released its 2002 preseason softball poll and the University of Notre Dame softball team ended up as the top choice, as voted on by the league’s coaches, to win the 2003 league championship. The Irish received 99 points in the conference’s preseason release, ahead of Syracuse in second place (85) and Villanova (75) in third. Notre Dame received nine first-place votes, while Villanova and Virginia Tech each received one.

2002 BIG EAST Preseason Softball Poll

Rank, team, (first place votes), points, ’02 record

1. Notre Dame (9), 99 pts., 44-17

2. Syracuse, 85 pts., 25-21

3. Villanova (1), 75 pts., 45-15

4. Virginia Tech (1), 71 pts., 42-18

5. Seton Hall, 69 pts., 29-17

6. Boston College, 63 pts., 26-26

7. St. John’s, 36 pts., 23-30-1

8. Rutgers, 35 pts., 22-25

9. Connecticut, 31 pts., 5-15

10. Pittsburgh, 30 pts., 21-33

11. Providence, 11 pts., 5-15

Mallorie Lenn wins gold medal with the U.S. Junior National team: Freshman Mallorie Lenn landed a spot on the U.S. Junior National team that eventually won the First Junior Women’s Pan American Championship in Hermosillo, Mexico.

Lenn, from Garden Grove, Calif., was one of the starting catchers on the U.S. team that did not surrender a single run during the tournament. The team was potent on offense as well, dispatching Netherlands Antilles 21-0, Guatemala 20-0 and Jamaica 20-0.

The U.S.’s main competition in the tournament was Canada, and in the first match up during round-robin play Lenn provided the game-winning RBI in her team’s 1-0 victory. Lenn also served as the catcher for the gold-medal game against Canada (a 2-0 U.S. victory).

The victory provided the USA with a berth in the 2003 International Softball Federation Junior Women’s World Championships in Nanjin, China, during the summer of 2003.

All-Time Record: Entering the 2003 season, Notre Dame softball has posted 556 wins in 14 seasons (almost 40 wins per season). The Irish have won 67% of their games and have never posted a losing season.

Road Warriors: February isn’t the best time to play softball in Northern Indiana, so the Notre Dame softball team hits the road exclusively during the first two months of the season to take on some of the best teams in the nation. In just the last five years, Notre Dame has visited Arizona, Georgia, California, Texas, Florida, Arkansas, Tennessee, Nevada, Hawaii and Oklahoma in early-season tournament action. This year, the Irish have already visited Tampa, Fla., for the USF/Wilson Tournament and Columbus, Ga., for the NFCA Leadoff Classic, Lafayette, Louisiana for the Louisiana Classic and Fullerton, Calif., for the Kia Klassic.

Irish will not back down from the best in the country: In what has become an annual tradition for the Notre Dame softball team, the Irish spent the first two month of the season crisscrossing the country and taking on the best teams in the nation.

Notre Dame began the year on Feb. 15, 16 and 17 at the USF/Wilson Tournament in Tampa, Fla., facing traditional power South Florida and several NCAA east regional teams, including Hofstra and Rhode Island. South Florida has recently debuted in the national top 25 at #24.

Three weeks ago Notre Dame was at the challenging NFCA Leadoff Classic taking on defending national champion #4 California, Illinois State and #17 Alabama. The Irish also went to the west coast for the 2003 Kia Klassic in Fullerton, Calif. Notre Dame faced Fresno State, #4 Nebraska and #13 DePaul at the Kia this year.

Notre Dame’s regular-season schedule also features the Blue Demons later this month (April 29).

Notre Dame Sports Information and OCSN will offer live audio for all home BIG EAST games: The Notre Dame Sports Information Office and the Official College Sports Network will offer live audio of all home BIG EAST softball games this season to those fans signed up for the “Fighting Irish Pass” on Play-by-play and commentary this weekend for all BIG EAST home games will be provided.

Live audio will be available for the following doubleheaders:

Notre Dame vs. Villanova, Friday, May 2, 4 p.m.

Notre Dame vs. Rutgers, Sunday, May 4, 11 a.m.